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Research - MAY 16, 2022

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What global air travel suggests about the economic recovery

by Jennifer Molloy

Global air travel gives a snapshot look at the differences between the United States’ “live with COVID” policy and China’s “zero-COVID” policy and what that means for economic recovery. This past year, eight of the top 10 busiest airports were located in the United States and only two were located in China, demonstrating a greater uptick in U.S. business and leisure travel in 2021.

The table below from Airports Council International shows “an encouraging trend of recovery,” according to Luis Felipe de Oliveira, ACI World’s director general. “Although we are cautious that recovery could face multiple headwinds, the momentum created by reopening plans by countries could lead to an uptick in travel in the second half of 2022.”

In 2021, ACI estimates there were 4.5 billion passengers globally, which represents a nearly 25 percent increase from 2020 but a more than 50 percent drop from 2019.

And as for those economic headwinds, as of April 2022,

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